Public servant swaps sector

The management and organisational structures may be similar in education and health sectors but significant differences remain.

What does your current role entail?
TyneMet is a large FE college based in North Tyneside and I head up its vocational academy. I manage all areas of vocational learning for 14-18 year olds across the college to ensure successful course delivery for full and time students.  

What qualifications and experience enabled you to be recruited to this post?
I am a registered nurse.  I made the decision to move into health care management later in my career to broaden my management skills.  I had always been interested in the education side of health care and joined TyneMet five years ago as head of health and social care studies, helping to deliver health care programmes for students in North Tyneside.  I completed a degree in education with the University of Sunderland before joining the college and then was head of health and social care for three years. I then took on further roles within the college as director of pre-employment and most recently, director of the vocational academy. 

What are the main differences between working in health and education sectors?
In truth, health care and education sectors are very similar from a management perspective.  You are using the tools available to you to assist other people, helping to improve their health or qualifications and communicating as much as possible with people across the organisation.  However, in education you do feel a more personal sense of responsibility relating to the impact your decisions will make on staff and students within the college. There is usually only one post holder undertaking a particular role. In the health sector, by contrast, it is very much a team approach to care-giving due to the 24/7 nature of the work and the different types of specialist care required for each patient. 

What’s the best thing about education?
I would have to say the staff.  I work with such a great team of people day in and day out that makes working at the college a consistently challenging and rewarding experience.  Because of the nature of education, we are all working towards a common goal to ensure learners receive the best possible outcome from their time at the college.  As a result I have a very positive working relationship with staff and enjoy a camaraderie which is very productive to the work we do. 


Do you get a different perspective on education, coming from another field?
Health care and education do have many similarities.  In both sectors you are making decisions which are in the best interests of your patient or student and the management structure is similar.  However, working in further education as opposed to a mainstream school does mean I get a broader perspective of the student journey and workplace training rather than just focussing on traditional academic achievement.  A non-education background is useful for delivering programmes for successful careers as well as academic achievement.

Is it easier to get a promotion in health or education?
Promotion prospects are very similar throughout the public services. However, education management is very target-driven role and success in any position can lead to a number of new opportunities, particular within an FE college.  Personally, I have been able to gain experience across a range of different management roles, each with a very different focus so opportunities to work in diverse areas of education are readily available. 


What is the highlight of your current role?
Continuing to raise the level of achievement of the college.  TyneMet has been communicating with the community, our learners and employers to develop our offer and I am very hopeful for the future.  We are consistently evolving as an FE provider and being part of that change is a particular highlight for me, ensuring that I can take the Vocational Academy in new directions to meet the needs of our staff and students.


And the lowlight?
Education is constantly changing and it can be demanding to keep up with new funding regulations and rules in all of the different areas the college operates in.  Changes in legislation and how it affects curriculum delivery and content is another area that is often subject to change

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